Tso may not be the worst hosting company in the World, but they certainly wouldn’t look out of place on the podium. Our TsoHost review will comprehensively expose several critical failings, any one of which alone would be enough to give the company a wide birth.
This company is still advertising for new customers, which is utterly shameful when you understand the plight of their existing customers.
TsoHost is owned by Paragon Internet, which is owned by GoDaddy. It was Paragon Internet whom we first became involved with in 2013. We began hosting sites with another Paragon property called VidaHost. VidaHost provided good value and solid support, so we began to recommend them to client’s looking for a budget hosting solution.
In 2018 VidaHost was merged into TsoHost, with the former taking on the latter’s name. Prior to the merger, we had noticed some cracks forming in the service, mainly in the waiting times on the phone and live chat facility. However, it was post-merger when things really started to fall to pieces.
Over the years, we’ve managed 100’s of sites for dozens of clients on Tso. Every single one of them has had significant issues. Not all of them have had the same problems, but in every case, the concerns have been bad enough for them all to leave or try to leave the service.
With that in mind, we’ve got a corral of stories that scale far beyond a single disgruntled customer.
Why is TsoHost so slow?
This is the question we started to receive more frequently. Tso is a budget host, and most of the clients who experienced issues were on a shared server. As the name implies, shared servers host more than one site. As a rule, the cheaper the host, the more sites they’ll cram onto each server.
Tso puts over 500 sites on each of its servers (based reverse IP lookups). That’s a lot of sites clawing at the same resources, but that’s not really the point. It’s the host’s responsibility to adequately load balance servers, so theoretically, 450 of those sites could be all but dormant, leaving enough resources for the rest of the site to receive modest traffic.
We asked Tso if they limit the number of sites on their servers. They said, “There is no particular limit, our servers have a space limit rather than a website limit”. So, that’s pretty telling. Servers should be filled based on bandwidth, not just crammed with sites until the drives are full.
We suspect the real problem is the lack of policing on the servers. Later in this review, we’ve provided a couple of case studies where a small number of people on the shared environment have abused unmetered bandwidth and unlimited hard drive space, or used the shared server to send out copious amounts of spam, causing everyone’s shared IP to get blacklisted.
What is the support like?
Whenever there’s an issue, dealing with Tso’s support is seldom fruitful.
TsoHost describe their support as “second to none”, a claim which would struggle to get much further from the truth.
The average waiting time on the Live Chat facility is generally ok (within this budget bracket). However, the person you get connected to is seldom adequately equipped to handle technical issues.
I get the impression that the extent of the support operatives’ expertise is the online knowledge base in front of them as they hop back and forth between too many chats. For a customer who wants to know how to change their email password, this obviously won’t be an issue, but when there’s a real problem, you will probably need a support ticket, and that ticket will need to be escalated so a senior technical support agent can review it.
Sites slowing down to a crawl
Here is a solid example of the problem with Tso support. On two different occasions, two different clients on two different shared servers woke up one day to find that their sites were running almost inoperably slowly.
Each of them contacted TsoHost support. The fact that neither had made any changes to their site when the issues began was a strong indication that there was a server related issue. Indeed, we would go on to test the server response time, and it was glacial.
In both cases, the support agent offered the same advice:
- Install a caching plugin
- Reduce the size of your images
This is solid advice for speeding up a website at face value, but it completely overlooks the specific causation. If you get in your car one day, put your foot to the floor, but can’t get over 5mph, you could unbolt and remove the seats. It would probably make the car go a little faster, but we can be pretty sure the engine has the problem.
Likewise, the support agents were told that the sites were working ok the previous day (when there was no caching plugin and the images were just as large), but the agents just didn’t have anything in their script for that.
We migrated both of the clients to a different host, and they described it as ‘night and day’ and ‘a breath of fresh air’ respectively.
Microsoft Blocking TsoHost IP Addresses
In 2017 I received a panicked phone call from one of our clients. This client had around 50 staff members who were using Tso email accounts. On that day, several had reported that some of their customers were not receiving emails.
It transpired that Microsoft had blacklisted Tso’s server IP address. This meant that emails sent by the 500+ businesses on that server would not be received if the receipt email was Hotmail, Live, Outlook, or any business email address on the Microsoft Exchange. That’s a lot of people – about 40% of the client’s customers in this case.
500+ businesses unable to communicate with 40% of their customers. That’s a terrible thought, especially as (when writing), many companies are struggling due to the pandemic. Many of these would have been very small businesses, and because these emails weren’t bouncing, many may have suffered badly without ever knowing it.
In the interest of fairness, TsoHost themselves can’t be blamed for this. Many websites share these servers, and it only takes one bad apple to abuse the IP and get a blacklist from Microsoft or any other mail provider.
Where the blame lands firmly at Tso’s feet is their response to the blacklisting. In a situation like this, you would expect the host to find the customer who caused the IP to be blacklisted, remove them from the server, then provide evidence to Microsoft that the issue has been dealt with. Email providers have the channels for hosts and SMTP services to do this. It can take a few days, though, so for good measure, they should change over the IP so that the businesses that rely on their services can continue to trade.
Tso acknowledged the issue on their status page and said they were talking to Microsoft. Several hours later, at the end of the working day, emails still couldn’t be sent. In fact, several days and the crisis was ongoing. Would you believe me if I told you it took more than a week to get those emails flowing again? If not, you need to adjust your expectations because it was much longer than a week. It was, in fact, months.
We had to migrate the most critical mailboxes to a different domain on Microsoft Exchange. We then had to set up a second additional domain to act as an intermediary between the Tso mail service and the new MS one, because of course, forwarded emails from Tso were being blocked.
That was not a small task.
Here are a handful of other issues that we had with Tso over the years.
- Sites not loading
- Website databases disappearing
- Emails from web forms not being received
- Data loss during migrations
- Webmail unusably slow
- Webmail showing error messages when trying to send
At this point in the review, it’s worth noting that all these cases relate to Tso’s cloud hosting service. To begin with, all our accounts were on cPanel based hosting. When the cloud service was introduced, we were told that the cPanel hosting was deprecated and encouraged to move over to their cloud service.
As far as I’m aware, the cloud service control panel is proprietary. cPanel is a licensed service, so they would have been saving a buck by developing their own system. The cloud control panel itself is actually pretty comparable to a cPanel experience.
After the volume of issues began to ramp up, Tso started to hint that there were issues with their cloud service. Later they would outright acknowledge the severe issues and strongly suggested that we migrated all clients back to cPanel. Despite acknowledging the problems, they refused to handle the migrations. Our response was simple; if we’re going to be migrating sites and email accounts, it’s certainly not going to be to another TsoHost service.
True to our word, we’ve gradually rescued clients from Tso and migrated them to competent services. One client remains because we’ve had such difficulty migrating their mailboxes away as Tso’s servers keep closing the connection. This client forwarded me this email from Tso informing them that, upon reflection, they have decided to provide lifeboats to get them off the Titanic:
They’re calling time on the Cloud Hosting. It reads, “We have created this platform specifically to target issues experienced with the current system and to give you a better overall experience.”
Four years late is better than never, I guess. We have no way of knowing if the cPanel hosting with Tso is any good. If you’ve had a good experience with their cPanel within the last four years, please get in touch, and we’ll add your thoughts to this review.
Is it a case of getting what you pay for?
Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter that they’re cheap. If you lose business because a potential client never received the quote you sent, or your website just disappears, then it’s much more costly than it may initially seem.
The fact of the matter is that several other hosting companies offer a dramatically better service within the same pricing bracket.
What would TsoHost need to do to improve?
They’re killing the much-maligned Cloud hosting service in favour of cPanel hosting. We’ll probably never get hands-on experience with that, but it’s difficult to imagine it being any worse. Hopefully, it’s the first step in them upping their game.
As mentioned earlier in the review, their support also leaves much to be desired.
Even if they make significant improvements in these areas, it would take many years to repair their reputation as far as we’re concerned.
Unfortunately, the fact that they’re advertising for new customers, rather than using that budget to improve their unhappy existing customers’ experience, doesn’t give high hopes that they’re heading in the right direction.
But what about all of the five-star reviews on Trustpilot?
Almost all of the five-star reviews are written at the request of Tso, as evidenced by the ‘Invited’ you can see next to each of them. Conversely, almost all the one-star reviews have been written by customers who have chosen to review the company independently. We’re still waiting on our invite!
We have reached out to Tso to give them the opportunity to respond to some of the issues that were raised in this review. We will post their response here.
If you’re looking for an alternative hosting recommendation, please get in touch with your requirements, and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.